Washington: The US Senate on Wednesday approved a so-called fast-track trade bill that empowers the president to negotiate trade deals, media reported on Thursday.
The bill will now be sent to President Barack Obama for signing.
The 60 to 38 Senate vote capped weeks of fighting over the trade bill and gave a big push for the Obama administration’s trade agenda.
The fast-track legislation, formally known as Trade Promotion Authority (TPA), empowers the president to negotiate trade deals and then present them to Congress for up or down vote, with no amendments allowed.
With the legislation passed by the full Congress, it will give the US trading partners the confidence they need to put their best offers on the table and help the Obama administration conclude the ongoing Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) free trade talks, which are nearing completion after more than five years of negotiations. (IANS)
The U.S. on Monday gave Chinese telecommunications giant Huawei another 90 days to buy supplies it needs from U.S. companies to build its electronic products, for the moment brushing aside concerns that Huawei was a U.S. national security risk
The 90-day extension on U.S. sales to Huawei extends to Nov. 19, giving it the ability to maintain existing telecommunication networks and offer software updates for electronic products it has already sold. Ross dismissed concerns about what happens in three months, saying, “Everybody has had plenty of notice of it. There have been plenty of discussions” with President Donald Trump.
The U.S. first blocked Huawei from U.S. purchases earlier this year, part of the lengthy and so far unsuccessful trade negotiations between the U.S. and China, the world’s two biggest economies. But Trump, after an appeal from Chinese President Xi Jinping, eased the sanctions against Huawei, allowing continued limited sales.
Huawei is still blocked from buying American parts for new products without special U.S. licenses. Ross said more than 50 companies have sought waivers to sell to Huawei, but none has been granted. The U.S. has claimed that Huawei’s smartphones and network equipment could be used to spy on Americans, an allegation the company has rejected.
“Technically, Huawei says they’re a privately owned company, ” Ross said, “but under Chinese law, even private companies are required to cooperate with the military and with the Chinese intelligence agencies, and they’re also required not to disclose that they are doing so.”
Even as his administration granted the reprieve on Huawei transactions, Trump said Sunday, “I don’t want to do business at all, because it is a national security threat.” The U.S. has also alleged that Huawei is linked to foreign policy risks for the U.S.
As part of the blacklist designation against Huawei, the U.S. cited a pending federal criminal case accusing Huawei of violating the U.S. prohibition against business transactions with Iran. Huawei has pleaded not guilty in the case.
Siness Network that the reprieve for Huawei would help U.S. customers, many of whom operate networks in rural America. Huawei spent $70 billion on component purchases in 2018, $11 billion of it from U.S. companies. “We’re giving them a little more time to wean themselves off” sales to Huawei, Ross said.
At the same time as granting the delay in ending sales to Huawei, the world’s largest telecommunications equipment maker, Ross added 46 Huawei affiliates to the Entity List, an economic blacklist covering restrictions on U.S. transactions with the Huawei-related ventures. (VOA)
Indian American federal appeals court judge Amul Thapar has emerged as a “serious” contender for a spot in the US Supreme court and has been interviewed for the position by President Donald Trump, according media reports.
He was one of four judges interviewed for the position on the nation’s highest court by Trump on Monday, according to The Washington Post and other media outlets that quoted unnamed sources who had been briefed about the meetings.
Trump’s Spokesperson Sarah Sanders confirmed that he met for 45 minutes with four candidates, but would not identify them.
Trump has said he would announce his pick next Monday.
Thapar was appointed by Trump last year to the federal Sixth Circuit Appeals Court based in Cincinnati, Ohio, that covers four states including his home state of Kentucky.
Considered a conservative, Thapar, 49, had served as a federal prosecutor before President George W. Bush appointed him a judge of the federal court for Eastern Kentucky by in 2007.
Thapar has the backing of Mitch McConnell, the influential Senate Majority Leader from Kentucky, for the Supreme Court vacancy caused by the retirement of Justice Anthony Kennedy last month.
“I think he’s absolutely brilliant, with the right temperament,” McConnell said on Saturday.
The Washington Post said Trump’s meeting with Thapar “was described by several White House aides as both a gesture of respect for the Senate GOP leader and evidence that he is in serious contention”.
He is the second Indian-American judge to be a leading contender for the Supreme Court showing the community’s reach across both parties and its influence.
Washington Appeals Court Judge Sri Srinivasan was among the top choices considered by then President Barack Obama for the Supreme Court in 2016.
Obama ultimately picked Merrick Garland but McConnell blocked the nomination refusing to take it up for Senate’s consideration citing the presidential election coming up later that year.
Earlier on Monday, Trump appointed his Deputy Principal Press Secretary Raj Shah to a key role in the difficult process of getting his nominee for the Supreme Court approved by the Senate.
“Raj Shah will oversee communications, strategy and messaging coordination with Capitol Hill allies,” Sanders said in a statement.
Legalised abortion that many countries like India take for granted is looming over the selection of the next Supreme Court judge, with many Senators making it the litmus test to vote for or against a nominee.
It is likely that a case involving abortions may come up before the Supreme Court leaving open the possibility a conservative majority bench could overturn its 1973 ruling legalising it.
During his election campaign Trump changed his stance and came out as an opponent of abortions and said that he would appoint judges with the same view.
But he said last week that he would not discuss with candidates their views on abortion.
The Republicans have slender two-vote lead in the 100-member Senate and at least one Senator from the party, Susan Collins, has said that keeping abortions legal would be a requirement for supporting the Trump nominee and another, Lisa Murkowski, has previously opposed efforts to overturn the 1973 ruling.
The 49 Democrats and the two independents are all expected to oppose any Trump nominee and Shah will have to work with Republicans in Congress to get a majority backing for the candidate.
However, other factors such as immigration, the powers of the president and any possible litigation involving the 2016 election of Trump and the alleged Russian interference are at play.
Thapar is widely considered to conservative in his approach, which aligns him with Trump and his base.
His father, Raj Thapar, told Courier Journal that his son is so conservative that he “nearly wouldn’t speak to me after I voted for Barack Obama.”
Thapar was born in Detroit and his family wanted him to become a doctor, but he chose law instead, the newspaper said.
Raj Thapar told the newspaper that his son’s only dream was to become a Supreme Court Justice.
Amul’s maternal grandfather had impressed on him how Mahatma Gandhi had defeated the British using non violence, Raj Thapar told the newspaper.
According his father, Amul had converted to Catholicism when he married Kim Schulte, a real estate agent, Courier Journal reported.
Thapar’s mother Veena Bhalla sold a successful restaurant after 9/11 to work as a civilian clinical social worker to help soldiers returning from the battlefield, the newspaper reported quoting McConnell.
For former U.S. president Barack Obama, it must seem like old times. Obama has started to hit the campaign trail on behalf of Democrats ahead of the November midterm elections, setting up what amounts to a proxy battle with the man who succeeded him, President Donald Trump.
Trump already has been a fixture on the campaign trail on behalf of Republicans, convinced that aggressive efforts in Republican-leaning states will protect Republican majorities in both the Senate and the House of Representatives.
Obama’s initial foray into the 2018 congressional campaign came at the University of Illinois where he urged young Democrats to keep up the fight for social and economic justice.
“Each time we have gotten closer to those ideals, somebody somewhere has pushed back,” Obama said. “It did not start with Donald Trump. He is a symptom, not the cause. He is just capitalizing on resentment that politicians have been fanning for years.”
Get out the vote
Obama also campaigned in California on behalf of several Democratic House candidates, where he urged activists to turn out and vote in November.
“When we are not participating, when we are not paying attention, when we are not stepping up, other voices fill the void,” Obama told a Democratic gathering in Anaheim. “But the good news in two months, we have a chance to restore some sanity in our politics.”
Obama now finds himself competing against the man who succeeded him, President Trump, and who has vowed to undo much of what Obama did during his presidency.
Touting the economy
For his part, Trump has been eager to get out on the campaign trail and has promised a vigorous effort to energize Republican voters to keep their congressional majorities in November.
“This election is about jobs. It is safety and it is jobs,” Trump said at a recent Republican rally in Billings, Montana. “Thanks to Republican leadership, our economy is booming like never before in our history. Think of it, in our history. Nobody knew this was going to happen.”
Trump also is stoking fear among his Republican supporters that a Democratic takeover of the House of Representatives in November could lead to his impeachment.
“We will worry about that if it ever happens,” he told the crowd in Billings. “But if it does happen, it is your fault because you did not go out to vote. OK? You didn’t go out to vote.”
Referendum on Trump
Midterm elections are historically unkind to sitting presidents. But unlike many of his predecessors, Trump has embraced the notion that the November congressional vote will be a referendum on his presidency.
Political analysts said that strategy carries both risk and reward.
“The enthusiasm on both sides of the aisle is really related to the president,” said George Washington University political scientist Lara Brown. “I think the last numbers I saw were that more than 40 percent of people who said that they would be very likely to vote were going to be either voting for the president or against the president in this midterm.”
Trump and Obama already have jousted over who should get credit for the strong U.S. economy. At his rallies, Trump touts economic growth and job creation numbers since he took over the presidency, arguing that the national economy is “booming like never before.”
Obama has offered some pushback on the campaign trail.
“Let’s just remember when this recovery started,” Obama said in his Illinois speech, highlighting job growth during his White House years as part of the recovery from the 2008 recession.
Like Trump, Obama also has proved to be a lightning rod for voters. The 44th president was effective in two presidential campaigns at turning out Democrats but was a drag on the party in his two midterm elections, spurring Republicans to turn out against him.
During this year’s midterm, Obama is likely to focus on mobilizing women, younger activists and nonwhite voters, key parts of the Democratic coalition that helped him win the White House in 2008 and 2012.
“That enthusiasm is there throughout the Democratic Party and across demographic groups,” said Brookings Institution scholar John Hudak. “And for the first time many voters are going to see options on their ballot that look and sound and talk about issues in different ways, and that is always something that is appealing to a voter base.”
Trump and Obama may never appear as opposing candidates on a ballot together, but they are facing off in a closely watched proxy battle in this year’s midterm campaign where party control of Congress is at stake. (VOA)